Summary of the 2015 field campaigns

This year, ODYSSEE has been extended by including two additional major mountain ranges of Europe, the Balkans and the Pyrenees, with the aim of acquiring data from new biogeographical regions and contrasting environments. These sampled areas are under the influence of Mediterranean climate and represent the southernmost distribution for Carex curvula alpine communities.

This additional sampling work was facilitated by a new joint project between the two ODYSSEE partners: BioDivMount, funded by:

In line with the summary of the last year campaign, a review of the new outcomes are presented in the following.


Distribution of the sampled points

In the Balkans, the field campaign was carried out in June and July 2015 by a team of five ODYSSEE members. A total of 13 communities have been sampled (Fig. 1.a). The altitudes of the considered Carex curvula communities ranged from 2338 to 2724, and for the Nardus stricta communities from 2294 to 2543 m a.s.l. They were distributed within the three most elevated mountain ranges in Bulgaria as follows:

  1. Stara Planina: Carex curvula (1) Nardus stricta (2)
  2. Rila: Carex curvula (3) Nardus stricta (3)
  3. Pirin Carex curvula (2) Nardus stricta (2)

The field campaing in the Pyrenees took place at the end of July, with the participation of four members. The elevations of the 14 sites sampled here (Fig. 1.b) were between 2368 and 2699 for Carex curvula, and between 1863 and 2473 m a.s.l. for Nardus stricta communities. The sampling points were located in the following mountains:

  1. Massif du Néouvielle: Carex curvula (2) Nardus stricta (1)
  2. Massif d’Ossau:  Carex curvula (1) Nardus stricta (1)
  3. Massif de la Maladeta: Carex curvula  (1) Nardus stricta (1)
  4. Massif Aigüestortes-Encantats: Carex curvula (1) 
  5. Massif de l’Aston, Montagnes d’Andorra: Carex curvula  (1)  Nardus stricta (1)
  6. Massif de Canigou-Carença: Carex curvula (1) Nardus stricta (1)


harta balcani (croped text)  harta pirinei (croped text)

Fig. 1 – Geographical distribution of the sites in the Balkans (a) and the Pyrenees (b). Half circles: areas comprising both Carex curvula and Nardus stricta sampling sites; Full circles: Carex curvula sites (red) and Nardus stricta (black) sites only.


Installed climatic loggers

In nearly each plot,  2 soil temperature loggers (Hobo UA-001-64) were installed both in the Balkans and Pyrenees. The same procedure was applied to facilitate their finding after one growing season (i.e. permanent woody sticks, descriptions of their placement in the ground, photos etc.).


Abundance of vascular plants at 100-sq m scale

Vegetation was described by recording the abundance of all vascular plant species occurring in the 100-sq m plots. The procedure was followed for both Balkans and Pyrenees.


Sampled keystone species (i.e. Carex curvula, Nardus stricta) for genetic variability and functional traits

For the genetic variability of the two dominant graminoids (i.e. Carex curvula ssp. curvula and Nardus stricta) leaves from 15 individuals in each community were stored in silicagel.

The functional traits of the two dominant species considered were:

  • plant height (measured for 20 individuals)
  • specific leaf area (measured for 10 individuals)
  • force to tear (measured for 10 individuals).

C and N content will be measured in the laboratory, along with the dry mass of the leaves for calculating SLA.

For histological cross sections, leaves from 5  individuals in the plot were sampled and stored in alcohol 50°. The structure and anatomy of the two dominant graminoids will be examined from stained cross-sections in the lab, in order to study the contribution of each tissue within the leaf.


Collected and weighted aboveground biomass

In each site, 3 replicates of 0.25 sq m (0.5 m × 0.5 m) were harvested; subsequently, green and dry parts were separated and weighted. Sites with too early vegetation development, excessively scarce vegetation or very rocky grounds were excluded from sampling. C and N concentration in the biomass will be measured in the laboratory using a CHONS analyser.


Soil cores for chemical properties and molecular diversity

A total of 50 cores of soil were collected from the middle and corners of the 100-sq m plots (i.e. 5 replicates). Around 15g of soil was extracted from each replicate for DNA extraction. The samples were stored in small autoclave plastic bags and subsequently dried using silicagel. For soil properties such as C, N, Soil Organic Matter, pH, an aggregated quantity resulted from the 5 soil replicates was prepared.


Extracted soil cores for diversity of collembolas

The taxonomic diversity of Collembola  will be analyzed from samples collected from the field using a calibrated bowl of 500 square centimeters. Five replicates were collected from each investigated community.



Photo gallery


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Expansive mountainous landscapes in the Balkans (Pirin Mts.; left) and the Pyrenees (Lac de Madaméte; right)

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Sampling the two target communities in the Balkans: Nardus stricta (left) and Carex curvula (right)

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Close-up view of  Carex curvula sites in the Pyrenees (left) and the Balkans (right)

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Nardus stricta communities: in the Balkans (left) and in the Pyrenees (with Iris latifolia, right)

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Extracting soil for DNA analyses with an auger in the Balkans (left) and the Pyrenees (right)

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Collecting biomass at 0.25 sq meters in a sparse Carex curvula community. Pictures taken in the Balkan Mts.

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The members of ODYSSEE who participated in the 2015 field expeditions (from left to right). In the Balkans: Amélie Saillard, Mihai Pușcaș, Bogdan Hurdu, Dan Turtureanu, Philippe Choler. In the Pyrenees: Stéphane Bec, Mihai Pușcaș, Amélie Saillard, Lambert Bourdenet